Tuesday 14 December 2010

Coding with ghosts

Software development is one of the most intensely collaborative processes I know. But stereotypically, programming is often seen as an activity for loners.

The majority of collaboration between developers is hidden because it happens across months and years. When I write code, I am working incredibly closely both with the original architect and with the future employee who hasn't graduated yet. I am communicating with people I may never meet, but also to past and future versions of myself.

When I leave work, most of the collaboration that I have participated in that day hasn't even happened yet.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Wikileaks is Napster

Remember Napster, the first widely successful peer-to-peer file-sharing service? In 2001, the Recording Industry Association of America won a lawsuit that killed Napster as a free service.

Lawsuits against Napster did not shut down peer-to-peer file-sharing because, like Wikileaks, Napster was neither the source nor the ultimate destination of the information flowing through it.

Wikileaks is a peer-to-peer file-sharing service. Its current architecture is centralised, which is a weakness that it shares with Napster. But if the central node is taken out, it won't be long before a new service with a decentralised architecture springs up.

The only thing that shutting down Wikileaks could possibly achieve is to make whistle-blowing slightly less convenient. For about a month.